Washington Law Review


At the 1914 meeting of the Association of American Law Schools held at Chicago, some papers were read and discussion had evidencing a conviction on the part of those present that the volume, complexity and uncertainty of the unwritten or common law in the United States had become such that there should be set on foot a movement looking to the establishment of some permanent organization having for its object the clarification of our unwritten or common law by way of restatement in a simplified, direct and orderly form. The World War checked the progress of this movement, though it received some further consideration in 1915 and 1916, but it was not until 1920 that the matter was again seriously considered by the Association of American Law Schools, with the hope of material progress, when a committee of that association was appointed looking to the establishment of a law institute. The membership of that committee was added to from time to time until it had thirty-nine members, a considerable number of whom were outside that association. Honorable Elihu Root became its chairman, and Dr. William Draper Lewis, Dean of the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania, became its secretary All of its members were of the highest rank among the jurists, practitioners and law educators of the United States. The committee was to prepare a report with a view of submitting it to a large representative assembly of judges, practitioners and law educators of the country, to be held at such time and place as the committee might designate, to the end that the sentiment of such an assembly be ascertained touching the proposed undertaking, and, if favorably expressed, some united formal action be taken looking to the formation of a permanent organization to undertake at least the beginnings of the manifestly large task of making a restatement of the unwritten or common law in the United States.

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